Let’s begin with the right cut of beef, and that would be a brisket from the navel end. The navel end is particularly fatty, and will stand up to the long cooking time.
In a sense, we’re taking a brisket, converting it into a corned beef, and then taking that and converting it into pastrami. The process takes days; however, your participation is minimal: Brine, Rub, Smoke, Steam, Eat.
Chef's Note: I don't have my usual photos for this recipe... except the main photo, and that speaks for itself. YUM
In addition, if you already have a good corned beef (from a butcher that you trust) You can skip all the way down to step 14, and save three days. But you really need to trust that butcher, when he/she says they have a good corned beef.
Put the filtered water into a large non-reactive stockpot and bring to the boil.
Add the brining ingredients.
Chef’s Note: If you are using juniper berries, rub them in your hands to bruise them before adding to the boiling liquid.
Chef’s Tip: If you are using gin, it’s a good idea to have a glass or two… just to make sure it hasn’t gone bad :-).
Stir for about 5 minutes (make sure all the sugars and salts have completely dissolved).
Remove from heat, and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
Chef’s Note: You will need a non-reactive container to hold the brisket and the liquid… the stockpot will do fine, but make sure that it is a non-reactive stockpot. Personally, I prefer something glass. I don’t like anything plastic, because chemicals can leach out of the plastic over the long soaking time.
Add the brisket to the liquid and immerse it completely in the brine.
Chef’s Note: The brisket will probably float, so use a pie plate or other non-reactive item to weigh it down.
Place in the refrigerator and wait for three days... four or five, if you have the patience.
Chef’s Note: You can check it if you want; however, as long as it’s immersed in the brine, you really don’t have to do anything. Just don’t forget it’s in there.
Add the pepper, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and the bay leaves to a mortar & pestle, and coarsely grind. Or, you could use a spice grinder.
Add the brown sugar, paprika, salt, cinnamon, and clove, and thoroughly combine.
Remove the brisket from the brine, rinse, and pat dry.
Thoroughly, cover the brisket with the spice rub
Place the brisket (unwrapped) in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Chef’s Note: We want the brisket to lose a bit of its moisture before putting it in the smoker, so unwrapped is the way to go. In addition, this will help to keep the rub from falling off.
Remove from the refrigerator.
Allow it to sit out for about an hour, this will take the chill off.
Prepare your smoker, and set the temperature to 220f - 225f (104c – 107c).
Chef’s Tip: Do not be tempted to speed up the process by increasing the temperature… have patience, grasshopper.
Chef’s Note: The choice of wood will help to flavor the meat; however, with all those other flavors banging around, it probably won’t make that big a difference. With that said, I usually use apple wood.
Smoke the brisket, until the internal temperature reaches 190f to 200f (87c to 93c).
Chef’s Note: This process can take up to 12 hours… or more.
Remove from the smoker, cover with a piece of parchment paper, and then tightly wrap in aluminum foil.
Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours, or overnight.
Chef’s Note: Take a couple of bricks and cover them with aluminum foil, and place them on top of the brisket to weigh it down.
STEAM & SERVE
Remove from the fridge and steam the meat for about an hour, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 205f (96c).
Chef’s Tip: It’s important to the tenderizing process to get the meat all the way to 205f (96c).
Chef’s Note: If you don’t own a steamer, you can always put a rack into a pot, with some water (make sure the water is below the rack). Simmer the water, and the put the brisket on the rack, and cover. Make sure the pot doesn’t run dry.
Remove from the steamer, and slice thinly perpendicular to the grain of the meat.
Chef’s Tip: If you cut parallel to the grain, the pastrami will be too chewy. Enjoy.